Hackney Downs Vegan Market is ending
Well, all things shall pass.
It is with a mixture of fondness, a little sadness, and a big sense of achievement that I announce the ending of the legendary Hackney Downs Vegan Market.
What started as a special Christmas market collaboration with Eat Work Art at Hackney Downs Studios quickly became the biggest regular food event in the UK.
Hackney Downs Vegan Market has played such an important part in changing the face of veganism in London, across the UK, and even throughout the world. It has inspired countless copycats and made big business take notice of vegan consumers in a way that very little had done before it.
Our community market was featured by the BBC (web, radio, TV) and countless blogs, newspapers, podcasts, magazines, style guides, and social media platforms.
The market has been a special place where we have given a huge stage to businesses owned or co-owned by women, people of colour, disabled people, and LGBTQ+ people. Josh and I have been committed to redressing disadvantage and oppression via the safe space of our market.
Many of our traders used the funds earned at Hackney Downs Vegan Market to go onto bigger and better things. Those early months of the market with record breaking attendances helped independent businesses such as Temple of Seitan and Young Vegans funnel much-needed funds into new shop premises.
The market helped support the financial stability of our vegan scene. It brought in tens of thousands of pounds to the pockets of independent business owners across its lifespan. We made this possible by charging the lowest pitch fees of any vegan market. We worked hard for little return so our traders could earn a living, not feel exploited.
We made global headlines with our record breaking attendances and we forced the city to rapidly recognise the power of the vegan shopper.
In turn, this was our undoing. Ian from Clarkshaws Brewing called it the ‘winner’s curse’.
Veganism is absolutely everywhere and people don’t have to travel for at least an hour on the Overground followed by a 10-15 minute walk in the cold in order to get inventive and tasty vegan food anymore.
It is now on their own doorsteps and to a large extent they have us to thank for that. We showed London how immensely in-demand vegan food was and the city took notice. Vegan food is simply in every nook and crevice of the capital, therefore our attendance figures at Hackney Downs have suffered. Many of our past food traders will now deliver to your door at the touch of an app, making the idea of going to an outdoor market less appealing for people.
Of course it makes me sad to see the market end due to lower attendance but as an activist wanting to see veganism spread far and wide, I have to be secretly happy.
I cannot sufficiently express my gratitude to our regular traders enough. It is impossible in this space to tell you about the countless ups and downs these people went through. Winter at the market is particularly brutal and the World Cup last year almost broke us completely.
These traders spend days preparing food and goods for the weekend, not knowing how many people will show up. Street trading is notoriously unpredictable but people like Chanel of Vegan Delice, Davina and Michelle of Cafe SoVegan, and Ian and Lucy of Clarkshaws always gave it their all in all types of weather.
They didn’t do it just to make money. They tirelessly supported the market because they understood it helped build social capital. It was a home away from home for many of our traders and an adored place to visit for our customers. They did it because they believed it made the world a better place.
They are my idols.
Eternal thanks to Adam of Eat Work Art (who has since moved on to another role) and his replacement Rosie for taking us under their wing and giving our traders a home for two years. Our market manager Robertas is nothing short of a hero and has built stalls and battled extreme weather to make sure everything ran smoothly. When he couldn’t be there, he made sure his friends Laurynas and Nerijus filled in and now they are also part of the market’s legacy and family.
And thank you to all of our customers who have braved the elements and made the market a world-famous foodie destination.
Together, we all did this amazing thing to improve outcomes for animals and our community. We made a difference.
We really, truly did.
Please visit the final ever weekends for Hackney Downs Vegan Market and make sure our traders go out like they started… with a bang!
Final dates for the market are Sat 15 and Sun 16 December as well as Sat 22 and Sun 23 December, 2018. The weekend of December 22 and 23 will be our Christmas market, so don’t miss out.
All details for the market can be seen online here. Get along to these final weekends and be a part of history.
Extra note: the FGV section at Venn Street Market is set to continue every Saturday in Clapham and don’t miss our one-day-only Xmas lunch market at Guildhall in the City of London on Friday December 21, 2018. Details here.